Dr. Akinlolu Ojo is the Executive Dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Dr. Ojo
received his medical education from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and residency training in
internal medicine at the University of Kentucky. He completed a nephrology fellowship, PhD in
Epidemiologic Science and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Michigan.
Dr. Ojo's research interests include clinical transplantation and chronic kidney disease with a
particular focus on African Americans and developing countries. He has authored over 120
peer-reviewed publications and has served on the editorial boards of several journals and on NIH
Dr. Ojo maintains an active clinical and translational research program with a portfolio of both NIH
and industry funding. He is member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Ojo
maintains active research collaboration with investigators in Austria, Brazil, Ghana, Jamaica,
Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan. Dr. Ojo currently works with the Ministries of Health of
several Caribbean countries to improve access to kidney disease care, including dialysis treatment
and kidney transplantation. Dr. Ojo was previously the Associate Vice President for Clinical
Research and Global Health Initiatives at the University of Arizona Health Sciences in the Office of
the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. Dr. Ojo came to that position from the University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he served as Professor of Medicine and the Inaugural Florence E. Bingham
Research Professor in Nephrology. Dr. Ojo is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with
expertise in chronic kidney disease kidney and kidney-pancreas transplantation and Global Health
Research. He is the Program Director for the HRSA/DOT-funded National Living Donor Assistance Center
(NLDAC), which provides reimbursement to financially needy live organ donors for non-medical
expenses incurred in the process of donating an organ.
Dr. Merion is President of Arbor Research Collaborative For Health and Professor Emeritus of Surgery
at the University of Michigan. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a transplant surgeon
and has served as project director on a variety of important federally funded organ transplantation
research projects. He is internationally renowned for his seminal research initiatives in both
therapeutic and public policy aspects of transplantation. Dr. Merion is widely published in
peer-reviewed publications. He is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Transplantation,
Chair of the Adult-to-Adult Living Donor Liver Transplantation Cohort Study Steering Committee,
Clinical Transplant Director of the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and
Secretary of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.
Dr. Merion will serve as the NLDAC Program Deputy Director. In this capacity he will deputize for all
the duties and responsibilities of the Program Director as necessary. Dr. Merion will serve as the
lead research scientist responsible for directing the operations of the research/statistical
analysis core. He will also serve as the key liaison between the National Living Donor Assistance
Center and the SRTR in any collaborative effort that HRSA may direct the two projects to undertake.
Barry Hong is a Professor of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine at the Washington University School of
Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Dr. Hong has a Master in Divinity Degree from Concordia Seminary in St.
Louis and received his PhD in Psychology from St. Louis University. He is board certified in
clinical psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He serves as the
Vice-Chairman for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Psychiatry and the Chief Psychologist at
Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He has had numerous appointments in the area of organ
transplantation. He has served as a Psychological Consultant to Mid-America Transplant Services
since 1992 and has been a member of the Advisory Council and is the present Chairman of the Missouri
Kidney Program. In addition, he has worked with the liver and renal divisions at Washington
University and has been an active member of the kidney and liver transplant services.
Dr. Hong is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
and has previously served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology and PsycCRITIQUES. Both are journals of the American Psychological Association. He has
authored 50 peer-reviewed publications and has received Honors from the American Psychopathological
Association, Missouri Psychological Association and Divisions of Health Psychology and Clinical
Psychology of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Hong will provide content expertise to the development of data collection instruments. He will
serve as the lead scientist for methodologic issues. He will lead the effort in refining research
hypotheses to be tested. He will work closely with the staff in Research/Statistical Analysis Core
to ensure integrity of the data collection and evaluation.
Dr. Mathur is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at Mayo Clinic
in Phoenix, Arizona. His clinical practice includes living donor and deceased donor transplant of
the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Dr. Mathur completed his his undergraduate and medical degrees at
the University of Florida, and his internship, residency and transplant surgery fellowship in the
the University of Michigan Health System. Dr. Mathur also completed a Master of Science in Health
and Health Care Research through the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 2010. Dr.
Mathur is board-certified in general surgery and has completed an ASTS multi-organ abdominal
transplant fellowship. He was awarded research funding from the National Institute of Health and the
Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities in 2008 and 2012. Dr. Mathur has published
over 30 peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters. His academic interests span several areas
of health services research in end organ failure, organ donation, and transplantation.
Dr. Mathur is the Program Evaluation Specialist for the National Living Donor Assistance Center. He
is responsible for the development and reporting of program metrics under the direction of the
Project Director and Deputy Director. Dr. Mathur is also responsible for identifying broader program
implications on transplantation via dataset linkages with relevant demographic and transplant
Kimberly A. Gifford is the NLDAC program manager. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business
Management from Park University and received a Master of Business Administration from the University
of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in 2010. Ms. Gifford has been part of the
ASTS staff since 2005.
During her tenure with ASTS, Ms. Gifford has been involved in numerous new initiatives that have
contributed to ASTS’ overall growth including the development of the Academic Universe. She
has demonstrated the ability to galvanize ASTS members, build collaborative relationships and engage
other stakeholders to achieve results. She routinely partners with other organizations to achieve
common goals. Ms. Gifford is experienced in analyzing operations and implementing systems and
processes to maximize efficiencies.
Ms. Gifford will provide managerial leadership in overall administration of the project and will
prepare financial reports as well as ensure quality controls.
Sidni Brown is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been the NLDAC Senior Program Coordinator
since March 2020. Ms. Brown has been part of the transplant community since 2015. She worked
primarily as an abdominal pre-transplant social worker for Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in
Indianapolis, Indiana before joining the NLDAC. Prior to her work within the transplant community,
Ms. Brown worked with patients suffering from bleeding disorders, sickle cell disease, and cancer.
Ms. Brown received her undergraduate degree in event management from Indiana University Bloomington.
She worked as an event and convention planner and manager for four years prior to obtaining her
master’s degree in social work from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.
Ms. Brown is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NLDAC and serves as the leader
interfacing with transplant centers to ensure all eligible living donors know about the NLDAC
program and have access to its funding. She also helps evaluate the impact of the program on living
Holly Warren is a registered nurse and has been the NLDAC Program Coordinator since 2007. Ms. Warren
has been part of the transplant community for nearly thirty years, and has held a variety of
positions. She worked in hospital development at the organ procurement organization, Donor Network
West, in Oakland, California. As a member of the heart transplant team at the University of
Maryland, in Baltimore, she worked with patients on the heart transplant waiting list. Ms. Warren
received her nursing degree from Fresno City College and her bachelor’s degree in Human
Resources Management from Fresno Pacific University.
Ms. Warren is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NLDAC and serves as the leader
interfacing with transplant centers to ensure all eligible living donors know about the NLDAC
program and have access to its funding. She also helps to evaluate the impact of the program on
living organ donation.
Marie-Claire Walters joined NLDAC as the Program Assistant in August 2017. Ms. Walters graduated from
Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2013 with a dual BA in Philosophy and Spanish. At
Clark University, she was awarded the David Saltman Prize for excellence in philosophy. Ms. Walters
was an English teacher in the Chilean public school system for two years prior to joining NLDAC. She
is fluent in Spanish, Italian and Catalan.
Ms. Walters’ duties at NLDAC include: providing support to patients and transplant
professionals in filing applications; administering funding to approved applicants; and educating
patients, professionals and the public about NLDAC. She writes NLDAC’s newsletter, manages our
social media accounts, and oversees the website content.
Joanna Giddens joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in August 2020, with a background in community
engagement and administrative support. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Washington
University in Saint Louis and an undergraduate degree in Art Practice from the University of
California, Berkeley. Before joining NLDAC, she worked at Grace Meridian Hill church as the
Community Life Coordinator. Ms. Giddens has worked with diverse populations through
Americorps, social and economic development programs and other altruistic nonprofits.
As a Program Assistant, Ms. Giddens provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public
about the program, processing applications, disbursing financial assistance, and supporting
applicants throughout the donation process.
Catherine Kuo joined NLDAC as a Program Assistant in August 2020. She graduated from the University
of California, Davis with BAs in History and Chinese. At UC Davis, she was selected as one of the
winners of the 2010-2011 Prized Writing competition. Prior to joining NLDAC, Ms. Kuo was an academic
editor and client relationship manager in Taipei, Taiwan and a full-time member of a professional
music ensemble based in Japan. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.
As a Program Assistant, Ms. Kuo provides administrative support to NLDAC, educating the public about
the program, processing applications, disbursing financial assistance, and supporting applicants
throughout the donation process.
The Advisory Group was established to assist the National Living Donor Assistance Center in:
The Advisory Group meets annually, holds periodic conference calls, and is comprised of a kidney donor, liver
donor, transplant surgeons, transplant physicians, transplant nurse coordinator, transplant social worker,
health economist, social scientist, financial administrator and a HRSA representative. Below is a list of
current Advisory Group members.
The Application Review Committee (ARC) members are responsible for reviewing applications received by NLDAC each
week. All confidential patient information is blocked to the reviewer.
ARC members approve or deny applications on the basis of whether or not the applicants meet NLDAC program criteria
and eligibility. If a waiver for financial hardship is requested, ARC members make a recommendation to the Health
Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to approve or deny the application. HRSA makes the final decision on
the request for a waiver and their determination is not subject to appeal.